The demolition of an Aberdeen school was halted in its tracks after baby gulls were found nesting on the roof.
Tools had to be downed when animal welfare groups raised concerns about the legally protected seabirds who had made Kincorth Academy’s former science building their home.
Work on the building is due to be completed by October but has now ceased following the discovery, a decision welcomed by TV wildlife expert Chris Packham.
Keith Marley, a trustee of the New Arc animal rescue centre outside of Ellon, said the council should have checked whether the birds were on the site prior to commencing the demolition scheme – and has reported the matter to the police.
He said: “They should have ensured the gulls were removed before the work.
“Going in and mowing down the building with chicks inside isn’t acceptable. It’s not humane in any way, shape or form.”
Kevin Newell, founder and director of Humane Wildlife Solutions pest control firm, was among those working at the school and discovered the gull and three chicks in the roof insulation.
He said: “A lot of hard work has gone into stopping the demolition since the birds were spotted.
“The site manager has agreed to stop the work until the council can resurvey the entire site.
“We are not too sure what will happen to the gulls – it usually takes around three to eight weeks for them to naturally leave.
Famed naturalist and broadcaster Chris Packham heard of the announcement and expressed delight at the “good news” online.
He told his followers on Twitter that Humane Wildlife Solutions, the council and contractors were now “working together to make sure the chicks are safe”.
Good news ! This old school was being demolished this morning in Aberdeen . Luckily @HumaneWildlifeS noticed the protected Herring Gull's nesting on the roof and @AberdeenCC and the contractors are now working together to make sure the chicks are safe . pic.twitter.com/mDJpPD2e6R
— Chris Packham (@ChrisGPackham) June 12, 2019
A police spokeswoman said officers would carry out investigations “to see if any crime has been committed”.
Kincorth Academy, which opened in 1971, closed last July with pupils now being sent to the £47 million Lochside Academy.
But since shutting its doors, Kincorth has been targeted by vandals and firebugs, with demolition beginning in March.
An Aberdeen City Council spokeswoman said: “After being alerted to the risk of birds nests being disturbed, demolition work has stopped. Work will only resume when we are confident there is no risk of disturbing nests. The impact on the programme for clearing the site will be assessed.”